My Book Wishlist on What to Read this Year

My Book Wishlist on What to Read this Year

There was a chapter in my life where I was pre occupied with work/study and books. Boys also crossed my mind but they were too complicated to understand, so I settled for books.
I really love reading.

When I was a kid, we have a mini library in our house so I was trained to be a geek early. If my family were not traveling, I was either going around the village with my bike, or I was spending time reading children’s books.

I lost the art of reading temporarily when I was a yuppie because computer programming took up a large chunk of my brain. The hobby resurrected when I became a volunteer in Kolkata, India, when out of boredom, I read the thickest book I can read while waiting for my wee allowance.

Books and Solo Travel are my refuge.

I got to discover The Thousand Splendid Suns, the Little Prince, and Like a Flowing River.

This year, I want to go back to reading and need to start writing more. I’m focusing on creating a sustainable lifestyle so others can follow too so the books I should read needs to be related to this area of expertise.

And while building that ideal life, I want to read the following books. Feel free to gift them to me too

coffee shop library2

The Richest Man in Babylon
I have started reading this. The wordings are a bit ancient but they say accumulation of wealth is not new and it has been practiced since ages ago.. The secrets to financial wisdom are revealed in the book. I will let you know once I finish reading the book if the principles are indeed effective.

There are more financial books on queue. And I have read a few already. My favorites are – Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

I’ve been improving and have started investing in different income streams. Let’s see what the future holds.. I still get anxiety attacks now that I let go of some projects that is not serving my purpose but I’m sure it’s for the better. Possibilities are endless.

Aside from financial books, I also would like to read about how people achieved success in the new economy.. Success not only in terms of money but also measure other factors of life like happiness and health. Some on my lists are:

The Monk who sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

The book is a business fable derived from Sharma’s personal experiences after leaving his career as a litigation lawyer. It revolves on a story of a lawyer that became a monk after a achieving a spiritual journey in the Himalayas.. and so he sold his richness including a holiday home and a Ferrari.
At this present moment, it’s difficult to persuade people if you don’t have materialistic richness. Heck I see modern day monks with high tech gadgets like ipad and macbooks… my naughty sarcastic psyche wants me to be a monk so I can have ipad and macbook donations too.

Kidding aside, I still would like to read the book. Then see if the wisdom is applicable in the current society.


The Abundance of Less: Lessons in simple living from Rural Japan by Andy Andy Couturier

I definitely want to read this. Japan is known to be so technologically advance, yet the savvy society created stress in its people too.
And then there were wise people who chose the road less traveled and discovered the luxury hidden by having a simple lifestyle.

Originals: How non conformists move the world by Adam Grant
The book talks about folks who take time to investigate and deploy an alternative are more predisposed to innovation. To become original, to choose novel ideas and values to battle conformity and outdated traditions is presented in the book. I would love this book coz I’m a misfit anyway.

There are still lots on queue but I guess it needs to wait while my brain digest the books in the list I mentioned above first.

To be honest, I’m contemplating to go back to study. Just to exercise my right brain. For those looking to go back to have their postgraduate degree, you can lookup free dissertation samples to plan ahead.

I might study in another country so it can also be an excuse for me to travel as well. I’m excited on the possibility to explore and make new friends in a new country, let’s see what the future holds.


book reading

International Food Choices in Metro Manila

International Food Choices in Metro Manila

Despite traffic, what I appreciate in Metro Manila is the abundance of things to do and variety of food to eat.
I have traveled in different provinces and despite fresh food and fresh air, I cannot simply find international cuisines immediately unless I’m in a tourist area.

I also used to think international dishes are very expensive, apparently, while roaming Metro Manila, I discovered some hidden gems that I’m eager to showcase for the lifehackers out there who wants to get value for their money.

Here’s some of them, hope you get to visit some of the food stalls that I will feature here. Most of them are just hole in the wall and since they are a small business, have no advertising budget despite their delicious cuisine.

Feel free to check them out.

Vietnamese food. Spotted at Jam & Viet Vietnamese Cuisine, Cash and Carry Makati

I’d travel many times in Vietnam just for food.


vietnamese food

I LoooOOove their food. I have Vietnamese friends whom I have known for many years and they are great cooks. Even my alpha female friend who owns a successful company knows how to whip a traditional cuisine. That’s why I smirk when I meet women here who don’t know how to cook and they say it with pride like it’s some kind of a status symbol. Eww.

Korean food. Spotted in Kim N Chi, Robinsons Manila Food court

I first tasted Korean food when I was in Tagaytay last 2004-2005 in a 6 month long term retreat because I lived with Koreans and other international young people.
Chapchae is made of glass noodles, similar to our pancit bihon guisado using glass noodles but a slight different taste. It’s only 85 pesos at Kim N Chi in Robinsons Manila.
Caveat, sometimes the chap chae is too oily.


korean food

There are other Korean restaurants in Metro Manila, I just highlighted my cheapest yet delicious find..

Indian food. Spotted at Bollywood treats in Century City Mall, Makati.

Unlike in Malaysia where Indian food is very affordable, Indian dishes here in the Philippines are considered high end. There’s also not a lot of Indian restaurants around here because well, Filipinos are not really into super spicy food.

I lived in India for 7 months so my tastebuds has adopted to eating torkari, biryani, gorum chai, and other Indian dishes.. so when I went back to the Philippines, I have to choose between sacrificing to not eat 3 Jollibee sessions to be able to afford an Indian dish.. and its super difficult when ur craving and you’re in the jungle 
So good thing I discovered this Indian stall. I’m surprised they sell Biryani at 95 pesos only (Actually it was 75 last Christmas, inflation is real). Nevertheless, tastebuds are very happy.

Chinese Food.

My default comfort food for this is always siomai.
You can find siomai in almost every food corner. But if you want a food adventure, Binondo is a good place to hunt some Chinese cuisines since it’s the oldest Chinatown.
For those with high end budget, order a dumpling platter where you can eat different kinds of dumplings in one go. Lately, my Chinese friend let me discovered this very delicious dish, I forgot what it’s called but you can just show this picture to the waiter and they will figure out what it is.


chinese food

Japanese food.
I observed that I’m subconsciously eating more Japanese food whenever I’m in Metro Manila. My favorites are sushi served in buffets. But I also love to eat any Japanese food served with unlimited rice.
Like Chinese food, Japanese food are abundant in Metro Manila. I would like to highlight this food stall instead: Ramen Daruma

I have never been there to be honest but I still would like to recommend small artisan food stalls that have little budget for promotion rather than large chain fastfood and restaurants that have budget for ads anyway.


metro manila buffet


Italian Food.

I don’t really eat out when I want Italian food. I cook these dishes instead. My favorites are PiiIIzZzza and PAaasTaaAA (with matching Italian gestures)
I learned to cook Italian dish when I lived with Italians in Tagaytay last 2004-2005 so I’d rather cook. Feel free to do cooking sessions with me.
To those craving for spaghetti, you can try to look for Filipino spaghetti in Carinderias… It’s a pasta that caters to the local Filipino tastebuds. I highly recommend buying from local food carinderias so you can support local livelihood too.


pizza and spaghetti


American Food.

This is a no brainer. Just go to any city and you’ll be paraded with fastfoods and restaurants that serve French fries and Burgers.
The Filipino tastebuds is very familiar with the American food so it’s like everywhere. It’s very popular that there is no need to promote it.

Middle Eastern Food.

I tried to go to two restaurants that sells middle eastern food..
The first one served delicious Persian food but is high end, so I won’t highlight it here because I’m sure they have marketing budget.


persian food

I went to another one but I was not impressed with the service and the food. It has the Arab feel complete with sisha and stuff. I even ordered an exotic sounding food called Shishtawook sandwhich.. but when I saw it, it’s just like a shawarma. I’m still looking for a good restaurant that serves middle eastern food at a valued price. Any leads?

For now, I recommend any shawarma food stall instead.. there are lots of it nationwide, at least you get to have a glimpse of the Middle Eastern cuisine.

Morrocan, Mexican, Thai, and Indonesian and all sorts of food in the Legazpi Sunday Market, Legazpi St, Makati

I was touring my HK/Canadian friend around Makati and I showed her a place that only opens on Sundays.
I know this place since 2005 when I was still a corporate yuppie and living in Makati. It has expanded and options have become plenty when I last visited just a few weeks ago.
The interesting experience at the Sunday market is that you see expats selling their international cuisines. Alternative to the usual Filipino staff, it’s really nice to see the expat owners running their business hands on. That’s a high selling point of the area coz there’s a personal touch to the goods being sold.
Added points to the Palengke style setting. It’s non intimidating unlike the posh Malls. I highly recommend local and foreign tourists to check it out if they want to do food trips.
It only opens on Sundays though.

Food trips should not be missed if you want a perfect vacation in the Philippines especially in Manila, I’m still in the lookout for other international cuisines to promote preferably those that have no marketing budget but offers great service and delicious meals. And surprisingly, I cannot find a Thai restaurant that is value for money too. The 20 baht phad thai in Chiang Mai, Thailand still wins.

Do you have a recommendation? I’d love to feature them here.

Here are recommendations of my fb friends Joshua Berida, Enrico Dee and Cris Gelindon, feel free to check it out:

Joshua Berida: Napoli for Italian.
Enrico Dee: Kasbah for Morrocan in Serendra
Cris Gelindon suggestions:
Swagat Columns Legazpi for Indian food
Nav for modern Thai in Kapitolyo
Zao for Vietnamese
Lee Hak for Korean buffet Shaw blvd
Sofrito for Puerto Rican
Wai Ying Binondo for Chinese
Shangri La finest cuisine at West Triangle
Arroz Ecija Pinoy foods
Alba for Spanish
Behrouz for Persian or K-bab in wack wack

5 Activities that will make you go on Retreats

5 Activities that will make you go on Retreats

Going to a retreat is actually a way to rejuvenate yourself, renew your spirit, enlighten your soul. It’s a way of going back to heal before you move forward. Some think it’s a religious activity, but you can actually view it as a way to recharge your human batteries.

It’s not all prayers, chants and reflections. There are different retreat activities that you can do depending on your budget or where you want to do it. You can go with family or officemates to pamper yourselves at luxury vacations, or you can do solo silent retreats at a forest in Cambodia, up to you as long as it suits your style.

 

I highly recommend it because I’ve done retreats before spanning from a few days to 6 month long activities and it has shaped me who I am today. Want to know more? Below are retreat activities that may spark some interest in you.


you have permission to rest
 


Reflections – These reflective moments should focus on assessing past activities whether it will be beneficial to your future moves. Sometimes, it can just be staring at the ocean at day and gazing at stars without thinking too much.. just unwinding.

Wisdom sharing – this depends on the kind of retreat you are looking forward to. I had a 6 month long retreat in an international community and learning from actual experiences proved the best life teachers to me. For those who have limited time, conversations with a life coach or a spiritual guide may help you chart the next steps of your life.

Food nourishment – those who live in big cities may not have a chance to always eat healthy food. Retreats are occasions for you to also nourish your health. Usually, these kinds of activities are done on rural areas where fresh food and fresh air are abundant. I recommend going vegetarian and see the effects in your body. I tried to have a vegetarian lifestyle for 2 months when I was traveling in Nepal, and despite the very cold weather, I never got severely sick.

Physical activities – You can do some massage, yoga, or if you’re up to it, hike some nearby mountains, bask in the warmth of the sun, swim and feel the love of the ocean. If you love the outdoors and don’t want to be confined in a stationary place, then you will enjoy these activities.
But for those who wanted to just lay back, daily massages and yoga can calm the nerves and soothe the soul. If you are attending a spiritual retreat, spiritual practices is included in the itinerary.


things to do in Bohol: camp out in the beach


Giving back – a way to have a worthwhile activity is to commune with mother nature and the care takers of the beautiful place where you are having a retreat activity. The oceans have lowly fisherfolks, the mountains have indigenous communities, the fresh food that you eat are taken cared by grassroot farmers. It is better to connect to these people and see if both of you need help. You need nourishment of well being; they need help with their livelihood. Both benefits and the cycle of life resumes on a positive light.

Retreat activities should not be fast phased. The objective is to relax and rejuvenate in preparation for busy days ahead.

It’s also different from just having a vacation because here, all aspects of your life are being assessed with reflections. You may want to know life lessons that I’ve learned from doing activities like these, I’d like to share some to you:

1. Everyday is a dying day. So we all need to create beautiful lives not just for us but if we can, for everyone. So when we leave the earth, people will remember the good, and hopefully, will forgive our bad sides.

2. Beauty, fame and glory fades away. Only one thing is constant – change. I have become unattached to material possessions, I do value and collect beautiful experiences instead.

3. That every one has their own purpose in life. If there are no farmers, we will have no food to eat, if there are no doctors, no one will treat us when we get sick.. so they should be given equal treatment in life.

4. That the world is beautiful and we should take care of it because it’s the only one we’ve got.. and because we have limited time on earth, we should roam it before we leave.

5. I still have my bad mischievous side.. just like the yin and yang, all humans have this. Being a saint in this day and age makes you vulnerable to people who takes advantage, leaving you drained out.. So a good balance is beneficial.

Some people actually look forward to some relaxing days away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. For the lucky ones, it has become an everyday lifestyle. ^_^

Food Guide in Metro Manila

Food Guide in Metro Manila

Maybe you’re thinking of where to eat in Makati, BGC, or anywhere in Metro Manila.

But before that, why not think of how to hack your way by dining out at fancy places without making your wallet cry. You can still be posh without scamming someone to treat you.. woop, sorry cynical thought right there.

Despite high cost of living in Metro Manila as compare to other provinces, you can still hack your way around it. Thanks to friends who gave me insider tips.

Besides, a probinsyana should equally enjoy traveling the concrete jungle just like city people enjoying the greeneries. That way, we’re creating an equal world.

I just hope that people in Metro Manila are regulated coz the population is just very many I felt that people are running out of oxygen already.

Anyway, for those who wants to do food trips in Metro Manila, here’s random ways on how to have a happy tummy that is value for your money.


metro manila buffet

1. Eat at food courts in Malls.
This is usually a place in the mall where all eateries are beside each other. You can find different kinds of foods from all over in this area, plus you get to enjoy aircon. Tip is to find a store where there are lots of people who are lined up to order. If a store doesn’t have a patron, the food is probably not that good so don’t bother unless you want to have an adventure at your own risk.

2. Take advantage of unlimited rice.
You can opt to diet the whole day and then eat once in restaurants with unlimited rice. One order can range from around 130pesos or 2.6usd, then you can request for as many additional rice after. But if you’re from the province, why do you need to this when there’s unlimited rice in the rice fields. I recommend to eat something else instead like international cuisines. I see your reaction – ekpensib ba? I’ll break your logic in my next article.


3. Book hotels that provide buffets.

For the posh but still wants value for the money, you can opt to stay at hotels that provides buffet breakfast.. you can start at 10am so you can have breakfast and lunch at the same time.

4. Hack Buffets.
But if you don’t need to stay at hotels, you can still opt to eat at buffets.. for free. Yep. Make sure it’s your birthday, then go with your friends to buffets where there are birthday freebies and you get to eat free… if your friends don’t want to treat you, ditch them.. you don’t need fair weather friends :D


veggie buffet

5. Break stereotypes
For those who wants to break the stereotype social class boundaries, you can still visit posh places without breaking your wallet. Buy that kakanin from aling tindera, then eat it while sipping your expensive coffee. If someone stares at you, stare at them back hypocrites.

6. Look for discounts or deals.
I learned this late because I’m antisocial and so behind in the grapevine. You can look at websites of restaurants or deals website like Metrodeal and usually there is a link there that gives discount information.. I actually want grasya.com to be like those kinds of websites too. Let’s see what the future holds.

7. Get invited in parties.
Because I’m antisocial, I rarely get invited into parties. If I do, I’m the one paying for the party : ))))… so be lucky to be invited, this means free food too.

pizza and spaghetti

8. Get to eat for free by mystery shopping.
I did this gig when I was tasked to scrutinize different branches of a posh restaurant. Yep, I get to travel to eat and do what I do best, make okray in a professional way.

9. Healthy option – cook your own food.
You can do a day trip in a nearby Palengke to shop for ingredients of your food. I recommend the wet market rather than the grocery store coz it’s cheaper and you get to help the vendors in their livelihood too. Just make sure what you’re buying is fresh. Sometimes cooking is a cheaper and healthier alternative than eating out. I’d do this if I’m in Metro Manila and have a proper kitchen.


how-to-make-sushi

10. Hole in the wall options.
This is not for the faint hearted. But I survived my college and yuppie days in Metro Manila eating hole in the wall food.. and I’m still healthy and alive as far as my health checkup is concerned which was just last month. Just make sure the hole in the wall or carinderia has many customers, that means it’s trustworthy.

Here you go. Do you have some tips to share? Please put them in the comment section and let’s give blessings to others. May you find happiness in food theraphy.

Checklist on Choosing that Great Holiday Accommodation

Checklist on Choosing that Great Holiday Accommodation


**this is an old post that I’d like to reminisce and update every now and then, enjoy reading ^_^…

In the upcoming days, I will play tourist guide to a cousin from the United Kingdom.

Usually I’m a girlscout cheapskate traveler, but since I’ll be traveling with family, I will have to level up with some comforts. One comfort will be places to stay while we are on holidays.

I have prepared a checklist of my definition of the perfect place.. Whether it’s a posh hotel or a family house, what really matter is if the places agree to the criteria below. Check them out or feel free to add up more info in the comments if you like.

1. Value for the money. To be honest, I have stayed in 5 star hotels, and I felt like it’s just another hotel.. And I have stayed in hotels that don’t cost much yet I get that posh feeling, and I feel like not wanting to leave… Below is one of my favorite hotels in Bangkok. That posh feeling don’t need to be expensive.


temporary hotel office

2. Genuine Staff Hospitality. When I was traveling in Boracay last month, I overheard this group of local young men taunting another local traveler. Based from their conversation, I think they knew each other very well.. Because the sarcastic phrase of telling the newly arrived local not to go back to the island if he doesn’t have money was… sarcastic but for the locals it’s funny.

Now, imagine if those local men were the staff at the hotel. Do you think they will treat you according to the level of your budget? In the material world, probably you’ll get treated that way.. but in some far flung places, you’ll get treated as a valuable visitor.. and that is genuine hospitality.

3. Cleanliness. After long days of travel, anyone would like to rest in clean and welcoming rooms. No matter how simple or how elegant, as long as there is no cockroach flying, floors are clean, sheets are newly washed, then it’s already heaven. Below is a picture of my room, I got it for free courtesy of my host whom I consider a foster mom in Bhaktapur, Nepal.


4. Food. I prefer to stay in hotels with free buffet.. or at least the restaurants are nearby. Every place has their own unique dish so the foodie in me craves an adventure that delights the taste buds.


metro manila buffet2


5. Facilities. Hail to the accommodations that provide extra facilities like Swimming Pool, Gym, Rooftop, and meeting rooms. It feels like we’re not just renting a room, but we’re free to roam around the hotel building to use the amenities as well.

6. Great Location. I actually met tourists who prefer the far flung areas. So I guess location preferences vary from the types of guests. If for example, I’m in a city, I would choose a place that are near the malls, subways, airport. But when I wanted to dive deep into the culture, I would go as far as Changunarayan, Bhaktapur in Nepal just to seek the authentic. Take note, traveling to far flung areas and experiencing real culture doesn’t have to be expensive too.

7. Complimentary stuff. Freebies such as slippers, shampoo, lotion, towel, plates, spoon, fork.. wait… dear hotel staff, I’m just kidding, don’t send a policewoman to stare at me while eating. Below is the hotel room that me and my mom enjoyed while traveling out of the country last year.


8. Security. It feels safe to know that there are security guards making sure guests are safe during their stay.. but when these guards stare at you in your every move, then that’s not the definition of safety. Stare at them back and in an intimidating voice ask them – do I look like a drug pusher?

9. Parking. This will be convenient for those who have their own car. I don’t have a vehicle so it’s down my list.

10. Travel and Tour Assistance. This is also not a priority for me because most of the time, I travel without needing any tourist guide. But this comes in handy when the place is really far flung, and the helpdesk is ready to find you if you’re lost.. coz you haven’t paid yet so probably that’s one of the reason.

Related Articles:
http://grasya.com/2014/10/5-ways-to-stay-in-luxury-hotels-for-free/
http://grasya.com/2017/12/alternative-places-to-stay-when-traveling/
http://grasya.com/2015/08/how-to-get-free-accommodation-when-you-travel/